Kevin Ian Schmidt
are you prepared for a crisis

Crisis Management – Are You Prepared?

Research by Oxford Metrica shows that it is not the fact of suffering a crisis that damages a business – in reality no business can eliminate the possibility of a problem- rather, what really counts is how the organization is seen to manage the crisis: take control quickly, respond professionally, and communicate well and the organization is likely to prosper. Dither, hide or appear to be uncaring, and tough – even terminal – challenges may lie ahead.

As a result, thorough crisis preparedness is essential so that the organization can be off the starting blocks like an Olympic sprinter. And – just like athletics – what used to be speedy enough to win a gold medal is now far from world class. They used to say that the first 24 hours of a crisis were crucial. The speed and spread of crises today – largely driven by the immediacy and reach of on-line media – makes a mockery of this golden rule. Being prepared before the crisis breaks and being able to respond almost instantaneously allows organizations to retain control over their destiny.
This means that all the old lessons of crisis preparedness still apply (but more so):

  • Understand your areas of vulnerability
  • Develop and implement crisis management plans and processes
  • Rehearse the plan and enhance it
  • Train your people, especially those required to act as a spokesperson in a crisis
  • Monitor the landscape
  • Engage in pro-active issues management

But the power of online media presents a new and potentially scary dynamic. Digital media has enormous power to both create and destroy reputations. And many organizations are still grappling with how to harness online media in the face of this potentially business-critical challenge.

Failing to do this leaves the organization frighteningly vulnerable in today’s world. If a crisis is gestating online, then the organization must have the capability to also manage it online. Sticking to traditional media has the potential for at least three negative results. Firstly, you may fail to reach those people most affected and concerned by the crisis – the people talking about it online. Secondly, you lose the opportunity to engage with the online community which has the power to spread positive messages about what the organization is doing to deal with the situation. And finally, you may further escalate the situation by communicating bad news to people who were previously unaware that there was a problem.

The key to success is the combination of traditional reputation management insights and expertise, and the application of the latest on-line reputation management tools to get the message through.

As the start point for online reputation management, companies should:

  • Develop crisis management “dark sites” to respond quickly, clearly and effectively to emerging issues and incidents
  • Ensure that it has identified and set up the infrastructure to communicate via social media such as Twitter and Facebook
  • Implement online media monitoring to track what is being said about them in cyberspace
  • Employ search engine optimization to ensure the company’s perspective is heard loud and clear rather than being swamped by the views of others
  • Develop the capability to quickly create content – latest information, briefing papers, podcasts, blogs – for online media

The internet has the power to spark and spread a crisis: but used effectively, digital tools have enormous potential to help organizations prevent and manage them too.

The Importance of Communication During Disaster Management A crisis is defined by a series of events occurring rapidly and unplanned in an area that you manage. The importance of excellent communication cannot be stated enough, because all your decisions as the emergency manager are based on the information gained from all the responders and witnesses to the disaster.

In fact, a good emergency management plan will have a dedicated communication position and their sole responsibility is to coordinate all the other communication to provide the manager with a single stream of communication.

I have witnessed a manager trying to control a crisis, while using a company mobile phone, his personal mobile phone, a radio handset and people nearby speaking to him. Where do you think his ability to actually manage this crisis was?

Check Out: Strategies Behind Crisis Management

First failure point in disasters is the communication systems

It is strange to see just how many managers rely on mobile phones as the company communication system during a disaster. Take a second to think about how long a mobile system stays functional for during a disaster until it is overloaded with users and crashes.

This is where the importance of selecting the right communication equipment is highlighted. If the equipment fails, it doesn’t matter how skilled your emergency management team is, they cannot talk to each other passing on vital data.

Consider reviewing your emergency equipment for;

  • Do your company mobile phones have all employees’ numbers in the contact list
  • Do you have spare batteries, fully charged and ready to go for all phones relied on during the emergency?
  • Will your landline phone system still be in use if the power/computer goes down?
  • How do you manage multiple conversations on your mobile without hanging up on each other?
  • Does always everyone on the response team have their communication equipment with them

The second failure point is lack of efficiency using the communication equipment

When conducting practices, it is easy to speak slowly and clearly with all waiting patiently for you to finish. This is no way to practice for emergencies.

Try this instead. Give everyone a radio/phone and tell them all to walk briskly around a decent sized park or oval nearby for a minute or two.

You move to the middle and then call them. Ask them to describe what they see quickly as they walk past the different objects. Listen to what happens next. If this doesn’t instill in you the importance of good communications during a disaster nothing will.

What you will experience is;

  • Rapid breathing as adrenalin kicks in and people rush their spoken words
  • Some cutting over others as they are not listening to the comm’s but thinking about what they will say next.
  • A lot of dead radio space as people are trying to understand how to describe what they see to you and forgetting that they have the phone/radio on

As a direct result of this little experiment you will also get a taste of what it will be like to try and listen to 10-20 different messages coming at you in the center.

Check Out: Steps for Designing a Workplace Crisis Management Plan

How to improve your communications

Assign callsigns and radio codes for building names and locations for example so that you reduce the time each person stays on the network.

Assign a Communications Leader to handle all inbound and outbound calls by becoming the center spoke and allow you to make decisions and not take messages.

Good emergency management means everyone has a role to do and someone needs to be responsible for ensuring your communication systems will stand up to the challenge. Don’t just focus on fire extinguishers and first aid kits as these will do no good to you, if you cannot get the messages to your emergency team.

Even just four people in your communication system means there are eleven channels of communication that messages will flow along. Imagine how many communication channels need managing for 20 response staff.

quality safety training

10 Reasons Why Safety Training is Often Ineffective

There are a number of reasons why so many safety courses fail to provide results in the workplace. This article lists ten of the most common reasons for the lack of results.

  1. The most important one is that the environment to which the participants return is not blessed with effective leadership. This ineffective leadership does not encourage or foster a safe environment. Often, there is a culture of blame when there is an accident or incident.
  2. Next, the training is purely knowledge-based and not behavioral based. This means that whilst the participants may leave the course with extra knowledge, they don’t necessarily know how to apply it. Academic teaching methods are used, theories are expounded and there are few practical elements in the training. Safety is an emotional subject and the training programs must be designed with care.
  3. Safety Training can be boring in the wrong training hands. This is a great turn off for so many people attending the courses because they become disengaged and will not accept any new concepts or change their behavior back in the workplace.
  4. Frequently, the person taking the training course does not understand how people learn. This means that most of the money, effort and time is wasted and the participants become cynical and unwilling to embrace new ideas.
  5. Because so many training courses attempt too much, the group members rapidly go into an overload coma. When this occurs, no learning takes place and consequently no behavioral change back in the workplace.
  6. The participants are subjected to endless videos and “death by PowerPoint™” This means that at least two thirds of the group members are not reached by the information.
  7. The training is not fun. Worldwide research shows that training which is fun with plenty of humor is much more effective in terms of the retention and attention of participants. Furthermore, there is a greater acceptance of new ideas and concepts.
  8. The managers are not trained with the rest of the staff. This means that there is always the opportunity for a greater disconnect between the two groups in terms of common goals and objectives.
  9. There are no training objectives which are shared with the participants. They are not included in the process of setting goals and objectives nor are the involved in deciding how these are to be reached. There are no expectations set for performance after the training.
  10. There is no follow-up coaching on the job so that training is taken out of context and is irrelevant. There is no measurement of changed behavior.

If the participants in the training are not asked for a commitment to a safer working environment, it is unlikely that they will spontaneously give it.

Essential Elements of an Emergency Operations Center

Many people assume a security operations center only functions as an information crossroads during a crisis. A quality security operations center serves as a central hub for all safety and security operations. The operations center is the focal point for receiving, analyzing, disseminating and acting upon the information that flows through the center.

For participants to perform their tasks in a coordinated fashion, the design of the operations center must consider how work is performed, the number and types of staff in the room at the same time, the design and function of specialized furniture and the audiovisual systems type and placement.

In order to establish an adequately equipped and modern security operations center (SOC), managers have to include IT (plus audiovisual system subset) communications, space planning and furnishings. Everything mentioned must be in sync during normal operations, to ensure optimal operation during a crisis so that staff can collaborate and direct the activities both in the operations center and in the field.


Here are a few important elements of modern security operations centers:

  • Facility design and layout: There are several ways to approach emergency operations center design and layout. The room layout could be a mix of different styles such as the traditional command center where rows of workstations are placed facing video screens, in an open layout style where workstations are placed around the room for open views, or the cluster style where workstations are placed together by function.
  • Specialized furniture: The best furnishings for emergency operations centers are customized for each individual application and constructed of materials that will sustain 24/7 operations. This furniture should be ergonomic in design and flexible to meet the needs of the staff who will be working long periods of time under crisis conditions. For example, workstations with a monitor that can swivel, which allows the screen to be shared easily.
  • Communications and dispatch consoles: These consoles are often in operation constantly throughout a crisis directing and coordinating activities in the field and keeping the operations staff informed of rapidly changing conditions. Because this equipment is important for proper management of an emergency, with operators spending long hours at the consoles, comfort and trusted functionality are paramount for effective performance.

As security operations centers design and functionality evolve, lessons will be learned and room layout, staffing and the tools they use will evolve with it.

With that in mind, you need to account for the steps to setting up the entire security operation center(SOC).

Steps to outfitting a new security operations center:

Formulate essential resources and assemble them: Members of the decision-making team may often be dispersed geographically and should be connected by:

  • Large screen video walls
  • Video conferencing capabilities
  • Telephones, speaker phones or headsets.
  • IT network with internet connectivity

Utilize emergency management planning and execution tools: Essential information systems should be shared by geographically separated operating locations. Software designed for SOC management should be in place and operations standardized.

Establish separate conferencing and breakout areas: Agree upon the emergency operations center design and space allocation. Where possible, separate conferencing activities from the main operations center. Conferencing areas should have phone lines, internet connection, specialized furniture, whiteboards and integrated audiovisual systems.

Acquire large screen video wall: The latest video wall technology is essential as a primary tool for seeing and hearing what’s going on at affected areas. Utilize the latest security management software to gain the most from a video wall system. Modern video wall systems allow you to acquire multiple images, size and place them on the screens, and establish layouts with preassigned hot keys so that combinations of images can be displayed quickly. The video wall can be used for video conferencing, collaboration, directing operations, training and record keeping. Choose space-saving LCD video wall systems for relatively low purchase price, dependability and maintenance. Where appropriate, include integrated sound for low cost and ease of operation.

A security operations center that is not properly setup in design and equipment will not function properly.

designing a workplace crisis management plan

Steps For Designing a Workplace Crisis Management Plan

There are six steps for defining a crisis management plan that can be easily remembered using the word “CRISIS.” Each letter of the word stands for a critical step that is necessary to be prepared to deal with a crisis. If you want to be fully prepared for an emergency, then go through each of these steps:

  • Complete a threat analysis: Before you begin any planning or preparation, the smart thing to do is to do a threat analysis to consider likely crisis situations. This is usually done in a brain storming session by contemplating a list of likely disasters. These could include natural disasters like storms or earthquakes or it could include man-made disasters like terrorist bombs or war. Other crisis situations might result from loss of key data, computer systems, or cyber intrusion. Although crisis planning usually is focused on these extreme situations, it would also be possible to include possible threats from competitors, loss of key accounts, or unwanted publicity due to misconduct by key employees. During the threat analysis phase, it is usually best to consider the widest possible range of crisis situations for your organization, and decide later which are the ones that you want to plan for in the next step – scenario planning.
  • Review possible contingencies – scenario planning: Now that you have listed the possible threats and crisis situations that your organization might face, it is appropriate to define which ones are the most likely and perhaps most threatening. Some situations might be obvious. For example, if your building is located near a major river that is known to flood the area periodically, then this is a scenario for which you will want to prepare. Other threats may not be as likely, but if they did occur, would be devastating. For example the treat of a cyber-terrorist attack targeted at your firm might seem remote; however, if it or a similar event occurred that caused the loss of all your important electronic files and computer systems it might be an unrecoverable event unless you had a plan. So, the key to this step is to select the most important contingencies and define the possible scenario in more detail. In other words, if this particular contingency occurred, what would the scenario look like? Defining what the situation would look like will help to define the recovery plans for that scenario.
  • Identify critical preparations: After you have done some planning for the most likely or important scenarios, examine the critical preparations that must be put in place. These could be critical infrastructure like prepositions supplies, emergency kits, or back-up electrical generators. It could also be other “hot sites” for computers or data centers that would take over in the event of loss of your primary data centers. It might also include more mundane preparations like emergency calling trees, home addresses and cell phone numbers for critical personnel.
  • Select and appoint a crisis management team: After you have planned for scenarios, and identified critical preparations, then you must select and appoint a crisis management team. If you have multiple scenarios, then you might have different people designated for the team depending upon the situation. Most importantly, designate a clear chain of command for the team to take charge during a crisis. They must not only have the responsibility, but also the authority to act and make decisions. If both the lines of responsibility and authority are not clear, then there will be confusion and arguments among the team when the crisis erupts which will cause them to loose focus and valuable time better spent in dealing with the actual crisis itself. If there are critical decision points where the team must get permission from the CEO or other key official, then they must understand their scope of authority to act and how to quickly reach the final authority during the crisis. Defining the key players and how decisions will get made is important to the success of the crisis management plan. Once the team is in place, they need to be trained and have an opportunity to work together as they review the plans.
  • Inform & educate everyone: Once the plans and team is defined, then it is important to inform and educate everyone else. Explain important procedures like evacuation drills, emergency exits, and what is expected under the various likely scenarios. In large office complexes, you might designate assembly areas outside the building, and have people on every floor designated to do a final sweep to account for everyone during a building evacuation. Other scenarios might require educating receptionists to understand what to do if they get a bomb threat and what information to listen for when receiving the call. Thus, make sure that everyone in the organization at least understands the basics of what they might be expected to do when a crisis erupts.
  • Support practice, debriefing and ongoing planning: Planning is never perfect, but it can be refined through practice. It takes a commitment by senior management to support practice drills and spend the time to review what happened during the practice sessions to refine the plan. One would hope that the plans would never need to be exercised in a real crisis; however, there is no substitute for a well rehearsed plan when a crisis occurs. Most crisis plans should be practiced at least once per year, and the plan should be updated. Key personnel will change, information and phone numbers will need to be confirmed, and key parts of the plan might need to be refreshed. It will be of little use to pull out an out-of-date plan during a crisis only to find out that the information is wrong or that the plan will not work because of changed circumstances.

The key to success in a crisis is having a realistic plan ready to execute. Good prior planning will identify not only the necessary steps, but also the required advance preparation of supplies, people, and training. Use the steps of “CRISIS” format and be ready to deal with the emergencies that your organization might face. You will be glad to have invested the time in advance of the situation.


Five Tips on Developing a Crisis Management Plan for Your Business

One of the mistakes most commonly made is to assume that all crisis plans are the same. Having worked with a wide variety of Crisis Management Teams from many different industries and sectors, they can differ significantly according to the structure and function of the Crisis Management Team. This article is intended to help you to ensure that the plan you produce is appropriate to the team and purpose for which it is designed.

There are five principal steps which should be undertaken as part of the process of producing the plan, as discussed below.

The first step should always be to determine what type of team you are writing the plan for. Is it a strategic team or tactical? It may even be a mix of the two and the plan needs to reflect this. A plan may require a completely different format and content depending on the function of the team for which it is designed. Is the team responsible for Crisis Communications? Is it offering strategic direction or practical instructions? The team’s role is the principal determining factor in the content of the plan.

Secondly, it is essential to understand how the team operates. What is the structure? What are the team dynamics? Is it a virtual team? A good plan will reflect reality – writing a plan which tries to force a team to work in a way with which they are uncomfortable is inevitably counterproductive – the plan will be ignored and therefore will become irrelevant. Should the plan assume that all issues are addressed collectively? Does the team structure mandate structured review points? Find out how they work and construct the plan around it.

Thirdly, what does the team want from the plan? Some plans offer lots of detailed information, others high-level checklists and flow charts. There is no “right” answer, except that the plan must give team members the level of direction and information that they feel is useful and appropriate. Typically, for example, presenting Senior Management with a plan full of pages of close-typed text is pointless. Equally, at a tactical level more information may be required. This can only be determined by working with the team.

The fourth step is to make sure that the layout of the plan is logical. The best plans map to the response process. Content should be ordered in a logical progression which guides the team through the steps of the Crisis Management process in the order in which they are likely to arise. There is nothing more frustrating than leafing through a plan to try to find what you need in Appendix C when you are operating under pressure. If my next step is to conduct an impact assessment, I would expect to see the impact assessment form on the next page, not buried in an Appendix. Remember – above all else, the Plan is a working tool.

Fifth and potentially most important is to get the team to rehearse using the plan before you finalize it. Remember, these are the people who must use it in anger. Regardless of how good you think it is or how much input you have had from the team in developing it, there will be bits that just don’t work in practice or which can be improved. Also, people are much more likely to use the plan and follow the process if they feel that they have had a hand in developing it.

Often, Crisis Management Plans are developed independently of Crisis Management Teams, who are then expected to use them – clearly, this isn’t likely to promote engagement with the process. Every crisis plan is unique to the team it supports and the organization for which it is designed. There are no short cuts to preparing them and attention needs to be paid to the detail to ensure that it does what is required. The best way to validate your crisis plan is to run a scenario-based exercise as a table top and see how the team(s) find it – and develop it from the feedback.

leadership qualities

The 7 Secrets of Effective Leaders

This article not only lists the characteristics of effective leaders but also it can act as a guideline for our own behavior if we are in a leadership position. Often, we receive no guidance once we have been promoted and leadership positions can be quite lonely.

  • They Learn. Effective leaders are constantly learning. They read, they attend seminars, they listen to tapes and CDs, they constantly ask questions and seek out skilled people to mentor them. These leaders develop new skills, develop new interests and continually expand their ability to achieve results. Most the time their learning is self driven as they find that increased knowledge also creates a situation where the unknown starts to become recognizable. This in itself fuels the desire to learn more.
  • They Contribute. Effective leaders have a strong sense of responsibility. They are service orientated and they have a powerful desire to contribute. They are constantly looking for people to whom they can contribute to help them raise their performance.
  • They Believe in People. These effective leaders are cheerful, humorous and happy but most importantly they are optimistic and their optimism rubs off on other people. Because they are so positive, they infect the people around them with the same hope. They don’t focus on people’s weaknesses but instead, try and develop their strengths. Because they are so positive and have such a strong belief in people, staff members enjoy working for them.
  • They are Excited About Their Role. Effective leaders are constantly excited and enthusiastic about what they’re doing. Their excitement and enthusiasm has a powerful effect on the people around them. They cannot avoid being caught up in the climate for personal development and growth.
  • They are Catalysts. Effective leaders harness the synergy of the group and apply their productive efforts to improve things. Because they believe in other people’s ability and potential, delegation is not an issue so their style of supervision is adapted for each individual.
  • They Think. Each effective leader puts him time aside every single day without fail, to think. This thinking time is used for setting priorities, designing changes, looking at ways of implementing changes, reviewing their own performance, reviewing the performance of other people in the team, planning and working your ways to implement improvements.
  • They Have an Abundance Mentality Effective leaders have no problems with sharing ideas, experience or documentation to help others. They don’t withhold information instead, they distribute as much information as possible to people who may be interested. Effective leaders are givers. They share without expecting anything in return.
proper Crisis Management

Strategies Behind Crisis Management

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the king’s horses and All the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again


You’re probably wondering what disaster recovery/ crisis management has to do with Humpty Dumpty. Think about Humpty Dumpty being that great project… that great idea… that great solution which will propel your organization so far ahead of others in your industry that they will need to spend years just trying to recover from your advancement. Or the idea which has such a global impact that everything will be better because of the implementation of that idea! Or that new product/service which will increase your stock value by 200%.

This is Humpty Dumpty sitting on the wall – setting the standard for extraordinary greatness! Then something happens within or beyond your control which causes Humpty Dumpty to fall and this fall impacts others on a grand scale.

The question becomes – did you pull together the best of the best (All the king’s horses and all the king’s men) to discuss Humpty Dumpty’s fall before he fell (strategic) or as a consequence of his falling (tactical)? Very few business leaders conduct an in-depth program on crises management/ disaster recovery/risk management associated with the various projects/products/services they desire to introduce into the market. Of course there are many reasons for such actions; however, present history tells us that failing to have a disaster recovery/crises management plan in place can have negative long-term effects on your business as well as the global economy for generations to come.

Leaders must plan for crises, that is, any dangerous events threatening injuries, deaths and financial trouble which could deeply damage or even close your company. However, if you can muster specific abilities, you can better equip your organization to overcome a crisis.

Recent crises and disasters included events that many once thought impossible. These calamities included terrorist attacks, natural disasters large enough to take out a major city and/or industry, cyber-attacks and corporate fraud. Today’s organizations must adopt a mindset of being ready when – not if – a crisis strikes. Crises occur more frequently now; they have become part of doing business. No industry or organization is safe, but you can spare your organization the most serious consequences by drastically changing how it plans and handles crisis management.

Comprehensive risk management goes through stages which require advance planning and proactive investments. First, prevent and mitigate a disaster’s damage before any risk occurs. Then prepare a robust response. Third, build recovery infrastructure. Fourth, offer an adequate response by addressing the damages sustained during the event – remember to take responsibility for your organization’s part in the crises. The fifth stage, proper recovery, requires rebuilding infrastructures to provide for the general welfare. The final stage, lessons learned/adjusting other strategies, based on what occurred, what does your organization need to do to prevent this from happening again?

Below you will find Before the Fall Strategies and After the Fall Strategies your organizations can implement to ensure you are able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Strategies for Disaster Recovery/Crises Management before the Fall

  1. Risk forecasting – The field requires more precise prediction techniques.
  2. Communicating risk information – Most people assume that low-probability disasters will not affect them. Enlarging the time horizon for disasters helps your employees better assess how they could be harmed. To help the owners of a production facility with a 25-year life span understand their flood risk, show them data indicating that the chance of a “one-in-100-year flood” happening during that 25 years is greater than “one-in-five”. Presenting the possibility as a “one-in-100 chance” in a single year is not as compelling.
  3. Economic incentives – Cash can motivate people to protect themselves from disaster, for example, cutting the insurance premiums of Mississippians who buy flood protection.
  4. Private-public partnerships – Disasters affect public and private organizations, so they should unite in advance to create mutual emergency strategies and defense plans.
  5. Resiliency and sustainability – Organizations must determine if they will be able to continue to function after a sudden disaster. This question also pertains to nations, notably developing countries burdened with “low-quality structures, poor land use, inadequate emergency response,” and so on.

Mitroff (2005) recommends that business leaders go through the following Spinning the Wheel of Crises exercise with their leadership/project teams before releasing a new product or service: The physical prop for this exercise is a large wheel which spins until it hits a flexible needle, which slows and then stops the wheel’s motion. Once it stops, discuss the possible crises which could occur and what actions need to be in place to prevent such a crises and/or what actions should be taken after such a crises occurs. This tool should be part of every project manager’s toolkit for success. Each segment of the wheel lists a major area in which crises occur:

  1. Economic – This crisis affects the economy
  2. Informational – Information gets lost, by break-in or computer error (for example, Y2K, the millennium bug)
  3. Physical – A crisis affects your buildings, equipment or products
  4. Human resources – Labor issues, fraud or criminal acts generate a crisis
  5. Reputational – Rumors and defamation hurt your organization
  6. Psychopathic acts – Violence, product tampering or criminal behavior strike
  7. Natural disasters – Hurricanes, fires, floods or mudslides breed crises

To ensure your organization covers all of its bases, combine elements (for example combine items #4 and #7); what plans need to be in place to ensure a quick and maximum recovery?

Strategies for Disaster Recovery/Crises Management After the Fall

Risk-related decision making involves weighing probabilities and benefits versus losses, creating an accurate statistical analysis and considering alternative actions. Follow these principles for perceiving, assessing and managing the risk of extreme events:

  1. Appreciate the importance of estimating crises – While such calculations are filled with uncertainties, organizations need good information to deal with risk
  2. Recognize the interdependencies associated with the crises – Every risk is connected to outside circumstances. Such linked dependencies create dynamic and evolving uncertainties which can mutate depending on events. Keep your risk forecasts up-to-date
  3. Understand people’s behavioral biases when developing crises management strategies – People must acknowledge their prejudices to make mitigating them possible. For instance, leaders may put off dealing with possible catastrophes due to a stubborn form of denial called not in my term of office (NIMTOF)
  4. Recognize the long-term impact of the crises/disaster – A catastrophe can create enduring change
  5. Recognize transboundary risks by developing global strategies – In disasters, national boundaries are moot. The 2004 tsunami killed people in 11 countries
  6. Overcome inequalities in the distribution and effects of catastrophes -Be ready to assist others in need
  7. Build leadership for averting and responding to disasters before it is needed – Planning and preparing for disasters is far better than waiting until emergencies strike

Your post-crisis push is to get back to business; Barton (2007) recommends the following Pillars of Business Continuity:

  1. When disaster strikes, you cannot possibly over-communicate with victims.
  2. Be in 24/7 contact with shareholders, employees, customers, contractors and vendors.
  3. Get your off-site IT recovery operations and emergency operations center up and running as soon as possible.
  4. Make sure the staff receives full salaries and benefits. Give the incident commander authority to pay for “equipment, hotel rooms and consulting services” as needed.
  5. Document everything, including damages. Plug in your insurance carrier ASAP.
  6. One and only one spokesperson communicates. Employees should refer all questions to that spokesperson. Avoid policy infractions. Control rumors.
  7. Designate psychological counselors and make them available for anyone affected.
  8. Update stakeholders three times daily concerning all activities and progress.
  9. Stay on top of all suppliers. Make sure they aid in the recovery in a timely manner.
  10. Make sure the disaster is over before you declare it done. Consider “scenario testing” to ensure that things are again as they should be. Plan a “multi-tiered return to normalcy.
  11. Assess event fallout. Establish accountability. Reward anyone who deserves it.

Now, what about “putting all the pieces together again” – we are living in a time where there is more information available to us in one day than our predecessors had to wait for years to receive. When your organization has trouble identifying solutions to a crises, do not hesitate to put the best brains together (inside and outside of your company and industry) to come up with the solution.

As an organization, your responsibilities include putting as many Humpty Dumpty’s together through creativity and innovation. And at the same time be proactive in your planning and have a through crises management/risk management / disaster recovery strategy in place just in case he does fall – being proactive in your planning allows you and your organization to survive through unplanned catastrophes/crises. Wisdom would say that your best creative and innovative ideas will come out of how you handle the crises and what you learned through resolving the issue which caused the crises/disaster.

building trust the important part of safety culture

7 Ways to Build Trust – The Vital Ingredient of Your Safety Culture

Trust forms the foundation for effective communication, employee retention, staff motivation and contribution to discretionary effort and most importantly workplace safety. So how do you maintain and build on the trust you may currently have in your workplace? This is an important question for today’s world of change. We know from our experience that when there is trust within any group, team organization, any change is easy to establish and maintain. It seems that trust underpins almost everything that we try and do in today’s organization.

We all think we understand about trust because of our own experiences. But it seems to stop there. How do we improve trust levels between people? One of the reasons that this is such a difficult question is that we have always considered trust as a quality by itself. It has been suggested that we should consider it differently. Although a definition of trust could be described as, “a state of readiness for unguarded interaction with someone or something” there is a body of opinion that suggests there are three components that make up trust.

  • The capacity for trusting.
  • The perception of competence.
  • The perception of intentions.

When you think of trust as being made up of these three components, it is much easier to understand. You can think about the capacity for trusting as your willingness to risk trusting other people. The perception of competence comprises your perception of your ability plus the ability of others to carry out their part of the task. Finally, the perception of intentions is your perception that the actions and words of other people are motivated by desires that serve all parties rather than being just self serving.

Productive and safety cultures require healthy levels of mutual trust because it is the basis of:

  • Being able to rely on people
  • Working as a team.
  • Reducing risk.
  • Having credible communication.

In larger organizations you cannot always control the level of trust that you experience, but you can act in seven ways that will create pockets of trust within your immediate work environment to create a safety culture if you carry out following.

  1. You can hire and promote people to leadership positions who are capable of forming positive, trusting interpersonal relationships with their followers.
  2. You can develop the skills of all your staff so that they are competent in interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence.
  3. You can keep all your people truthfully informed. Let them know what’s going on.
  4. You can be consistent under all circumstances. Your predictability will encourage people to trust you.
  5. You can act with integrity and keep all your commitments. The moment you are unable to keep a commitment, you can explain what is happening without delay
  6. You can respect every single staff member by listening and understanding first.
  7. You can give positive reinforcement when it is due.

Be Aware of the Negative Aspects of Positive Reinforcement

There is little doubt that positive reinforcement is the most potent of all interpersonal tools available to anyone in a leadership position. Unfortunately, it is a tool that is the most misunderstood and most misused in the workplace. Infrequent use of this tool can defeat the intention and be perceived as negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement that takes place too long after the event is also regarded as negative reinforcement.

This means that it must be timely and it must be regular when deserved. People in leadership positions should know most about positive reinforcement because this is the only way that all aspects of their followers’ performance can be maximized. The more positive reinforcement that is applied, the more that behavior will be repeated. For example, it has been suggested that acts of terrorism are the consequences of positive reinforcement. Because journalists are quick to report the group that have taken responsibility for an act of terror and publish their names and photographs all over the news, they are inadvertently, reinforcing that behavior.

Some leaders have found that by making immediate and visible responses to complaints from their staff, the number of complaints has risen dramatically. This is a difficult situation to deal with because the complaints cannot be ignored and must be acted on. By the same token, it has to be clearly seen that positive reinforcement has the potential to create a constant stream of complaints which will lead to continual dissatisfaction. One of the ways of handling this situation is to create a “fix it” list. On this list, things to be fixed are prioritized. As soon as one item is fixed, another one can be added.

Another area where positive reinforcement can cause a problem is the fact that what is positively reinforcing to one person will not necessarily work with another. This means that trying to positively reinforce across an organization is fraught with danger and is unlikely to be successful because of the number of people who will be unhappy with it. Successful relationships will only develop when you know what each person wants and you, as the leader, can help that person to be successful. Over the years, many organizations have attempted to make positive changes that affect everybody without considering them as individuals.

The message for the leader is this, “People want to be recognized and reinforced as individuals for their individual effort and results. Anything less will not only have the potential to have a negative effect but also create resentment.”

positive reinforcement

How Effective Leaders Use Positive Reinforcement For the Greatest Effect

There has been a lot of research over the years to try and discover why some leaders are more effective than others. Unfortunately, the major part has been based on what leaders say they do rather than actually what they do.. One researcher who has devoted their time to what leaders actually do, is Dr. J Komaki.

What she discovered is that effective leaders and managers didn’t give positive reinforcement more frequently than the ineffective leaders and managers. But their timing was different. Whenever possible, the effective managers and leaders gave positive reinforcement while the people were doing the job. This meant that they spent a considerable amount of time in the workplace. In contrast, the ineffective leaders spent most of their time in their offices.

When you give reinforcement when the behavior is being performed, you know exactly what you are reinforcing. Further more, the person receiving the reinforcement is in no doubt of which behavior is being reinforced. Most ineffective leaders don’t realize that reinforcement has got the definite shelf life. The longer the gap between the behavior and the reinforcement the less effective it is.

The effective leader also goes further. He or she knows that one of the greatest advantages of teamwork is that team members can provide an immediate reinforcement for each other. Leaders like this train their team members to give positive reinforcement at every opportunity. After all, the team members are in the best position to judge which behaviors deserve reinforcement.

Generally speaking, the amount of reinforcement that is given an organizations is tiny. Managers and leaders complain that often they give reinforcement but the behavior doesn’t change. Although most managers and leaders understand what reinforcement is and how it works, they are not aware of a frequent it has to develop high performing teams and effective organizations. To give an example, the median number of reinforcers given in the classroom is about six an hour.

Check out: Be aware of the Negative Negative Aspects of Positive Reinforcement

When you think about the last time you tried to train somebody in a workplace task, just reflect on the number of positive reinforcers you actually used. Without over doing it, this can be a very effective addition to your leadership style and it can also make you more effective in the training and coaching role of a leader. When there are too few incidents of positive reinforcement research shows that it becomes a negative reinforcement. The best example of this can be seen in the effect of annual performance appraisals. Because the frequency is so low, there is no way that they can have any impact on organizational performance or individual behavior.


How Effective Leaders Discover What Each Person Needs For Positive Reinforcement

As a leader, you need to be able to identify the specific reinforcers that apply to your individual team members. Each of your followers will respond best to an individual mixture of reinforcers. In this respect, no two people are the same. To keep track of the reinforcers that apply to each person, it’s a good move to keep either notebook or a page on your computer so that you can remember and add more information. It is also wise to sit down with that person and check to make sure that the information that you have written down about the things that reinforce them are current and not being superseded by something else.

Because we are all different, it takes a little bit of time to collect the mixture of reinforcers that apply to each individual. As a leader, your positive reinforcement will be much more effective if it is directed to the very things that mean most to your followers. But you need to find out from them how to motivate them to apply their discretionary effort. Think about yourself and consider the things that you regard as positive reinforcement that will motivate you to use your own discretionary effort. Make a note and also think about what it would be like if these reinforcers were applied on a regular basis.

The technique for discovering these reinforcers is basically one of listening and encouragement. For example, the discussion may follow these lines after the small talk has been dispensed with.

You “Tell me Jack what are the things in this job they give you a buzz? What do you get a kick out of?”

Jack “Well, it’s always good to finish a job knowing that it’s the best I can do.”

You “Tell me more”

Jack “When I’ve been working on something for a week or so, it’s good to see the back of the job and I get a great feeling of satisfaction when it passes all the inspections and goes out of the door. I know that I couldn’t have done it any better so gives me a good feeling.”

You “Is there anything else that gives you the same feeling of satisfaction?”

Jack “Not really the same but I do get a kick out of thinking about the jobs and working out ways of making it better or simpler or quicker. I don’t always mention things like this but it does make me feel good.”

From this very short discussion, you can see that there’s a couple of areas there that would be worthwhile noting down as reinforcers. Firstly, the satisfaction that Jack gets from the completion of the job and secondly, the satisfaction from working out better ways of doing the job. It would be very simple for the leader to go up to Jack at any time to discover and discuss what he had done to make his job easier.

Note that the person asking the questions spent most of the time listening, probably in the region of 90%. The questioner was using the technique of minimal responses which is a way of encouraging the speaker to continue to talk. The other techniques which can be used quite easily are, being comfortable with the silence and not rushing to fill the gap. Making good on contact with the out delivering an un-wavering stare. Using paraphrasing to confirm understanding. All these methods will make the job of discovering what to reinforce for each team member, relatively simple.


Five Factors All Leaders Should Know About Positive Reinforcement

When you are in a leadership position the most powerful interpersonal tool available to you, is positive reinforcement. Regrettably, the whole concept of positive reinforcement has not received the attention it deserves from all the written literature that is published every year on leadership.

People in leadership positions are constantly reminded of the importance of profitability, reduction of waste, customer service and increase productivity. The link between positive reinforcement and profitability has never been emphasized strongly enough. The result is that many people in leadership positions are failing to use the most important resource at their fingertips to increase the bottom line.

The five factors are:-

  1. Positive reinforcement should be tailor-made to the individual rather than applied as a blanket approach which creates unhappy people. There is no “one size fits all” approach that works because leaders are dealing with so many different people.
  2. As a tool, it should be applied only when it has been earned. There is no point providing benefits across the workforce if only some of them deserve it. Those that don’t deserve it will gradually reduce the effort that they put into their work because they are being reinforced for low performance. One of the worst things the business do is to give a percentage by increases regardless of performance. This means that poor performance is rewarded and it also fails to reinforce the top performers because they feel that a universal pay rise does not recognize their efforts.
  3. The application of positive reinforcement is not an event, it is a process. People will work at their very best, but they require positive, relevant reinforcement daily. To achieve maximum results it must be built into the work relationships and the work processes by the leader.
  4. The timing is critical. The closer you can make the reinforcement to the behavior that you are reinforcing, the more likely the behavior is to be repeated. The bigger the time gap, the less chance of this happening. The three conditions under which it works best are, it must be positive, it must be immediate and it must be certain.
  5. Without doubt, personal relationships produce the best reinforcement. This means that leadership behavior is the key to influencing the performance of followers. Every time there is an interaction between the leader and a follower, the link between their work and the overall objective can be of emphasized so they feel they are contributing to a greater goal. This gives them a sense of belonging and a sense of ownership of what they’re doing.

This is an extremely low-cost strategy but the return on the investment is very high and everybody who holds a leadership position should be aware of the power of positive reinforcement.

Making Behavior Change Stick Through Effective Change Leadership

The moment you understand the invisible elements that underpin human behavior, you position yourself to achieve performance results you never thought possible. Through a greatly effective and more universally accepted change leadership approach, you may never have to use command and control again to experience behavior change.


Whether you want to change your weight, change your relationship or change your company’s bottom line…it all comes down to human behavior.

You have no chance at sustaining improvements or changes in your business environment without first changing the underlying behavior and thinking patterns of the people involved. If you don’t address the behavior and thinking patters that created the existing situation in the first place, a time will come when you relax your regime of ‘change’ and everything will slip back to the way it was; back to the undesirable state.

See… the thinking and behavior patterns of your people are attuned to the status quo right now.

Take the example of a rubber band. To change the shape of the rubber band you could pull it and stretch it to a new shape. You could even hold it extended for a period of time in the shape you desire. But as soon as you let go it just snaps back into place, back into its original state. Your business is like this rubber band – it has an existing state that people are comfortable with. You can force these people into a new pattern of behavior but as soon as you relax your guard (which will happen sooner or later) they will begin to slip back into their old patterns.

It’s not your fault – suffice to say this is the greatest challenge business leaders face today; getting people to alter their behavior willingly and permanently.


The most common error in leadership is to focus on managing people’s actions and use the power of authority to get them to change.

This outdated ‘Industrial Age’ approach is practiced widely. It is a model that involves managers using authoritarian based command and control methods to coerce staff into greater productivity and higher-level performance.

Granted, this method of leadership does have its place. However, in today’s social and business environment, if this is the only style employed it will not work! Without addressing the invisible elements of behavior, you will never successfully create lasting change. When an employee’s source of motivation is compliance or obedience, managers must remain vigilant and continually monitor behavior. If they don’t, the desired behavior will not last. Imagine your managers having to monitor employee work continually in an already busy environment. They have less time; more stress; and (in my experience) they also suffer a decline in the quality of their personal life. The change only persists if the managers keep up the monitoring effort.

Today your employees have the power of CHOICE, so authoritarian based models of influence are not without risk. If that is the only style used, your best staff will simply move on to find a more positive working environment where they will be engaged and challenged, not commanded. All you’re left with is the dead wood.

One of the most important things I have learnt in the past three decades of work is this:

All shifts in business results are preceded by a permanent change in behavior. All permanent behavioral changes are preceded by a step change in thinking…a PARADIGM SHIFT!

This understanding is what has set us apart from most service providers in our industry. We don’t focus our business growth and improvement efforts on KPIs alone or just the technical aspects of behavior. We positively shift those things that drive behavior first.

And we do it this way!


The strength and effectiveness of Soarant Vision lies in our intimate knowledge of the 4 INVISIBLE ELEMENTS OF PERFORMANCE and how they can impact business at all levels.

Let me describe those four elements in this way.

The quality of the RESULT or OUTCOME you experience is determined by the quality of the actions or behaviors you engage in. Undertake the right behaviors and you create the desired outcome; it’s fundamentally as simple as that.

What determines the quality of the ACTIONS or BEHAVIORS you engage in?

Many people will think the answer is skill. I am here to tell you the quality of your actions and behaviors (within your potential performance range) is determined by the quality of your emotional state … yep, that’s right, determined by how you feel.

What determines whether your employee does or does not do something you want? Quite simply it’s determined by how they feel about it. Emotions drive all behavior; emotional state determines the quality of all behavior we engage in within a given range of performance potential.

To change the potential, you change the skill. To change the behavior, you must alter the emotional state.

Now… the final question. What determines the quality of one’s EMOTIONAL STATE?

I think we all know the answer to this one. The quality of one’s emotional state is determined by the quality of one’s THINKING and BELIEFS.


Through understanding how these Invisible Elements of Performance can be shifted, we’ve been able to consistently experience exception results in two areas:


Engaging people directly so they willingly shift their thinking and beliefs as a foundation to behavior change.

We put a ton of effort into this aspect of performance in our business execution workshops and leader development seminars. In fact, each seminar we deliver is designed to give people a set of skills and tools, but more importantly to have the right frames of reference and the vital sense of motivation to actually use the skills we teach.

Always remember… the thinking and motivational aspects of a new skill set can never be left unaddressed if you want people to use those skills.


Coaching and developing leaders who can utilize the power of influence and persuasion to create permanent change without the stress they are accustomed to.

It takes time to develop influence and persuasion skills to the point where they can be utilized without thinking in any situation, but it is well worth the effort.


I’ve found there are 3 scenarios for which leaders must develop these change leadership skills.

Scenario 1: Informally influencing others around you to engage in some new behavior or respond to your requests. This can be at home or at work, and even upwards, downwards and sideways.

Scenario 2: Leading a change initiative and guiding people through a roadmap of change that involves a specific sequence of steps from planning through to locking the change in.

Scenario 3: Formally presenting to audiences in order to influence their behavior and generate some specific response to a request. Audiences can be of any size and both known and unknown to the presenter. This scenario is often a precursor to scenario 2.